There has been a lot of talk about graphics card power consumption lately. whether it be the 600W scary rumor (opens in new tab) around the next generation RTX 40 series cards or the 450W of the recently released RTX 3090 Ti (opens in new tab)it is clear that the power consumption of the graphics card is increasing.
But it’s interesting to see what happens if you restrict the power to one card. Do you lose a lot of performance? Igor’s Laboratory set out to answer these same questions (opens in new tab). Igor took an MSI RTX 3090 Ti Suprim X and set the wattage cap to a relatively paltry 300W before heading out to see what effect this would have on the mainboard’s performance. The results were surprising.
If we look at the results of Igor’s 4K test, we can see that the stock Suprim 3090 Ti scores an average of 107.4 FPS across the entire test set. That drops to 96.3 FPS for the 3090 Ti tuned to 300W. Interestingly, the card still outperforms the 6900XT and is well ahead of the RTX 3080 and 3080 12GB.
Meanwhile, the power consumption readings are even more interesting! The standard 3090 Ti records an average power consumption of 465.7 W, while the limited 300 W card offers a readout of 313.8 W. That’s a big difference and proves how aggressive Nvidia was to ensure that the 3090 Ti kept the crown of total performance.
Of course, this is a theoretical exercise. You wouldn’t expect someone to buy a 3090 Ti and downsize it effectively, but it goes to show that with the right kind of tuning and lots of testing, it’s certainly possible to get your system to deliver better power efficiency. If a drop from 450W to 300W costs about 10% performance at 66% power consumption, there is likely to be a very good sweet spot, perhaps 375W for a 5% loss. That’s a level many would be willing to accept, especially in the summer months!
So while next-gen cards can draw 600W of power, a small tweak can provide some interesting results. It also gives us some hope that future mid-range cards won’t increase the same power consumption. A hypothetical RTX 4060 or 7700 XT is unlikely to hit 150W, but we can expect them to go below 300W.
With all the talk about environmental impacts and reduced emissions, giving a few percent in performance for a big energy (and heat) savings might be something some gamers would be willing to entertain. For others, though, it’s all about performance! And I wouldn’t use it against anyone. If you’re going to spend $2,000 on a card, you’re going to want to get the best out of it.